LA-based artist Louise Ann (L.A.) Marler melds pop art and vintage Americana into works of art— a blend of original photography and graphic art that aims to recreate familiar pieces, such as antique typewriters, vintage cameras, retro radios, mid-century television sets, and more. In her own words, the work is based on “beauty rooted in truth and humor; and is simple by design.”
Inspired by well-known pop art icons like Roy Lichtenstein, Peter Max, Ed Ruscha, and Andy Warhol, Marler is among a narrow list of women pop artists who, like Imogene Cunningham, Yayoi Kusama, and Jann Haworth, came into focus in the 1990s and created a new dimension to pop art. Marler’s work and her current exhibit showcase why she has made a name for herself for combining pop art with a long-held passion for typewriters. Growing up in St. Louis, MO, she began working in the family business of typewriter repairs, sales, and collectors. She later turned that family interest in typewriters into her own printer business and typewriter-centric pop art. “These machines and vintage cameras are part of my personal history and led naturally to becoming part of the subject matter of my visual expression,” she says.
This current exhibit is not as much an affectionate tribute to the typewriter’s role in culture but rather a showcase of Marler’s ability to transform contemporary world imagery. The show recaptures the shock of the moment, the urgency of the change, and the need to re-group priorities, particularly in publishing. Marler’s mid-century modern, iconic images of analog devices are interspersed with powerful, thought-provoking keywords urging a dialogue between the analog and the digital world. It underscores the power of art to push conversations and paths forward.
Mixed media pieces in the show include The “Keywords” series, a visual statement on our digital and analog lives. The “Typewriter Series” transforms photographs of typewriters into pop art insignias. “The Famous TypOwriters” is a unique series of famous authors’ typewriter art personalized in each writer’s style. Marler photographed the personal typewriters of iconic authors like Ray Bradbury and Orson Welles. She created contextually detailed images to transform the photos into a graphic image collage in homage to the appropriate author and their typewriter. Images are based on “Fahrenheit 451” for Bradbury and “Citizen Cane” for Welles.
Show curator Deepa Subramanian claims that through her art, “Marler raises a light-hearted yet valid question: Which would you rather be? Plugged or unplugged?” Subramian, who serves as the Arts Commissioner for the city of Santa Monica and is also the founder of Galerie De’ Arts, says that “Marler’s art is fascinating, provocative, glamorous and celebratory yet seeking to elevate the popular culture of mid-century modern tools to highlight a crucial message, which reflects the state of the current digital world as opposed to the analog world.” She adds, “Through Marler’s works, I wanted to emphasize that the advent of smart technology has killed the truth and weakened the trust.”
Maler’s work has been featured in movies, and Tom Hanks, also a fan of typewriters, has gifted the artist a signed typewriter from his personal collection.